Take One Action returns for 2021

Take One Action, the UK’s leading global change film festival, opens with a film about Scotland’s relationship to the global climate crisis and closes with the sequel to 2003 documentary The Corporation

Article by Jamie Dunn | 31 Aug 2021
  • The New Corporation

Take One Action has announced its return, and we’re happy to report the 14th edition of the festival will be an in-person event across four cities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness). Following on from last year’s digital-only edition, the festival will include online screenings too.

The festival opens with a corking film, and an extremely timely one given the recent devastating IPCC report on global warming and the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow. Living Proof: A Climate Story is a feature-length documentary blending flickering montage with sharply curated archive material to tell the story of Scotland’s relationship to the global climate crisis.

Made up exclusively of material unearthed from the National Library of Scotland archives, director Emily Munro takes us on a tour across the country's geography and 21st century history, from the forward-thinking Highland hydroelectric schemes of the 40s to the discovery of the North Sea oil fields in the 70s, via campaigns for nuclear disarmament and the boom of Scotland’s steel industry. Look out for our interview with Munro in our September issue, out this week. 

This isn’t the only film concerned with the environment at Take One Action this year. In Raj Patel’s The Ants and The Grasshopper, Malawian environmentalist Anita Chitaya embarks on a journey through the U.S. in an effort to convince Americans that climate change is real. The Last Forest, meanwhile, blends dreamscapes and reality to portray the Amazonian Yanomami community, as they fight to save their land from the threat of gold prospectors.

Big business and corporate greed comes under the spotlight in The New Corporation, Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbott’s sequel to their seminal 2003 documentary The Corporation. In that earlier film, the filmmakers put these soulless organisations on the couch and attempted to psychoanalyse them, given their attempt to rebrand themselves (for legal reasons) as individuals, rather than massive conglomerates. This new film counters corporations' latest attempted rebranding as socially conscious entities, despite the fact that it’s their greed and disregard for the planet and their employees that’s driving the climate crisis and the growing gaps of inequality.

There are a couple live in-person events too, including a free poetry workshop with artist and poet Tanatsei Gambura "exploring the possibilities and limitations of bilingual and multilingual imaginaries" (Greyfriars Charteris Centre, Edinburgh, 25 Sep). There's also a new collaboration with ÚNA Festival, "exploring ancestral tradition, climate justice and environmental balance", featuring Colombian artist Liliana Romero, Mexican sound performer Ruben Vucubcame, and Zimbabwean-Scottish artist and curator Sekai Machache (Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow, 24 Sep).

Online, you’ll find the hard-hitting documentary Zinder, in which director Aïcha Macky takes us inside Niger’s poverty and violence-ravaged second city of the title. More hopeful-looking is Writing with Fire, which shines a spotlight on the journalists of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women.

Also online is Bodies of Resistance, a programme of short films celebrating bodies as sites of reclamation and dissent. We’re told this selection will explore how “performance, movement, art and joy” can “reclaim built, digital and imaginary spaces; resist injustice; and find power in community.” There’s also poetry and talks appearing exclusively online, as well as a podcast exploring Palestinian resistance and international solidarity.

“After so many months apart, we are excited and grateful to be inviting audiences to celebrate the power of community and connection through world-changing cinema,” says Tamara Van Strijthem, Executive Director of Take One Action. “COP26 in November represents such a crucial moment for our planet’s future and our programme offers a much-needed opportunity to pause and reflect – and to question just how we’ve arrived at the topsy-turvy reality we call our own.

"To truly build back better, we need to both engage with and dream up different realities. Our excitingly diverse selection of documentaries, and the audience conversations we nurture, can inspire our way into a new story – one that centres care, community, equity, accountability and sustainability.”

Take One Action runs 22-26 Sep in Glasgow and Edinburgh and online, before heading to Aberdeen (22-24 October) and Inverness (29-31 October). Tickets are available on a sliding pay-what-you-can scale. Full programme at www.takeoneaction.org.uk